11/09/2011

Our Parents' Clock


It is funny how , when you age, it hits you that your parents are too. It is as if one day, you look up and suddenly realize, yes your parents are elderly. They look like your grandparents did when they were alive. With that realization also comes the fact, your days are going to be limited with them.

Many times, we take for granted that we can always pick up the telephone and on the other end is one of our parents to listen to our lives’ stories be they good, bad or indifferent. Their support is unconditional, at least most of the time. Over time, their opinions are often expressed. We hate to admit too how often they are right. It is so much easier to take their input when they agree with us, with what we want to do and with how we feel. But usually, in the end, sometimes after traveling down the wrong road and getting knocked around a few times, we do realize their wisdom prevails.

The circle of life is a given. One day, the phone will ring and it won’t be them calling. We will reach out, grab our phone and want to place a call but realize they are no longer there. Who can replace a parent? Who can care like a parent can about our lives? I am not sure anyone can. Except, of course, our heavenly Father, God.

Par for the course of aging parents ,unfortunately comes deteriorating health issues for them.. The calls we get and make are quite often filled with doctors’ appointments, diagnoses, updates on medical conditions and signs of aging that are not curable. One cannot help but wonder how many calls are going to be forthcoming, which call will be the last. Do you stand on constant red alert or do you just take it all in stride and take for granted they will be there tomorrow until the good Lord calls them home so you are not worrying unnecessarily. I think most of us simply hope they don’t suffer too much. The agony of seeing your parents live the last part of their life in pain and despair is one of the harder things in life.

Isn’t it ironic that the roles completely reverse. We come into the world being the child, the innocent ones and having our parents care for us. In the end, we become more the caretakers, the ones that are focused on our parents. We spend a lifetime focused on what we want, where we want to be and getting their undying support. Then, the tables suddenly turn and they need our focus to be on them.


I had a conversation just the other day with someone quite close to me. It was about those conversations that are hard to have but oh, so necessary . Finding the time to tell your parents what their presence in your life has meant to you. I think, if nothing else, this gift is priceless. We pray to God for thankfulness for His blessings, for what He has bestowed on us. Don’t our parents deserve this also? Too many times, a parent dies without their children expressing how they feel. There isn’t always the opportunity or perhaps even, in rare cases, the situation doesn’t warrant it. However when it does, take the time. Find the moment.

I have found, in my experience in talking to folks that are dying from cancer, openness and honesty is healing. These conversations bring people peace and lets them know that their legacy is a good one and will live on long after they are gone. They can leave this world proud and knowing they made a worthwhile contribution. Their time on earth was well spent and this sentiment cannot be expressed on some tombstone they will never see or a eulogy that will not hear. Our parents certainly deserve this type of praise and this type of peace as they one day face the inevitable, death. We need to find the strength to express this before their health goes and/or their completely.

When I look in the mirror, I see wrinkles. I see signs of live, of laughter and signs of years of living. I see in my eyes wisdom born of life’s experiences. When I look at my parents eyes, I see much of the same except deeper wrinkles, deeper wisdom and more signs of living and also signs of tiredness that implies much more aging than me. The health issues imply they are much closer to death than even I like to admit. Chances are we will not know when their final day will be. Who can predict when the hands on the clock of life will stop for our parents? We simply must take the time to speak from our hearts to our parents and let them know what they have meant to us.


As I looked up, as my parents walked towards me, approaching, as they always do, with a smile on their faces. I thought I saw someone else. But as they drew nearer, I realized the elderly couple was none other than my parents. And I was proud.
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